Driving is Dangerous!

City Driving

Is it my imagination, or are there many, many more extremely bad drivers on the roads now?

My observations:

  • General surliness and lack of civility
  • Common “rules of the road” frequently ignored (or never taught)
  • Use of turn signals now optional
  • Traveling at 10 to 20 MPH above the speed limit on secondary roads commonplace
  • Too many lacking confidence acting indecisively
  • Too many having too much misplaced confidence doing crazy, dangerous things
  • And, the most dangerous and maddening, the staring at the phone types

Generally, there are three types of drivers.

  • The good doobie – conscious competent – generally good drivers who pay attention, know/observe the rules of the road, who do their level best to drive safely and reasonably within the law
  • The dingleberries – unconscious incompetent – frighteningly poor drivers (capable of all of the above list, in clusters of foulness) who, unfortunately, are not in touch with the reality around them most of the time
  • The dimwits – conscious incompetent – not too bright, terrifyingly poor drivers who just don’t care, even sober – so stupid, self-serving and surly that any sort of encounter can lead to road rage behavior

How often you encounter these and in what proportion depends on where you are doing most of your driving. My impression is the zone from southern Virginia to Georgia is very different than the other two regions (the northeast, meaning northern Virginia up, and Florida) of the east coast.

Moving to the Charlotte N.C. 45 years ago, as a 25-year-old from New Jersey, I first was a bit leery of those I passed on the street who made great effort at eye contact and to say good morning. And it wasn’t just a few, it was everyone! Being a generally friendly person (I know, so few in New Jersey – or the northeast in general – but I was one of the few and now I knew I belonged in the south!) I quickly adapted as an enthusiastic participant. Four years later I was married and moving to Richmond VA. (BTW, I know this is a digression but trust me, its relevant!)

After 15 wonderful years in Richmond I took a job that required us to move to the Maryland suburbs north of DC. Great career move, but 15 years later we had more than enough and planned our move back to Richmond.

When we returned to southern Virginia eight years ago, from those 15 years in the DC area, a part of the motivation was to go back to the slower paced, more civil community we remembered. Although it was much as we remembered it when we returned, over the past eight years it too has changed.

Richmond is recognized as a foodie town by many. The region is also recognized for its reasonable cost of living, governmental fiscal discipline and its southern culture. Its central location has the mountains, the beach and DC just two hours’ drive away – a great feature!

So Richmond, especially when we moved there from Charlotte in 1980, had a pace of life that extended to driving behavior. Richmonders were knowledgeable, courteous, and safe in their driving. As the years have moved on (and an ever-growing number of dimwits and dingleberries have migrated here for all of the aforementioned reasons) the driving scene has changed dramatically and not for the better. Of course, not everyone who has moved to Richmond in the past eight years are dingleberries or dimwits. But those relatively normal and nice people do not stand out in a crowd like the “dims” and the “dings”.

Sadly, there is just so much traffic and hatefulness in that greater DC area, we try to stay away. We try to avoid even driving through the area to visit friends and family. When I am asked about my time in the DC area I tell them “if not for the traffic, the lack of civility, the crime and the cost of living, what’s not to love?” I also know there is a lot of economic activity there, during boom or bust. And many are attracted to those possibilities. I was too and, from a career perspective, it was a great move. But man, it is truly great to be away from that place, if not for the traffic and drivers you must deal with alone.

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